Valve boss Gabe Newell used his keynote address at this year’s DICE conference to discuss how the gaming industry needs to evolve.
Newell touched on everything from the way games are made to the way games are sold, and mentioned Steam so much that he eventually apologized to the audience for coming off off as too much of a “Steam whore.”
Some of the main points he addressed were:
Frequent content updates: Newell said Team Fortress 2 has received 63 updates from Valve in the last 14 months. That is the future, he told the developers in the audience: “You’re going to be touching [your customers] not every three years but every three weeks – and hopefully even more often than that.”
Videogame companies acting as “entertainment companies” for gamers: They are fans of properties, not forms of entertainment. Fans (to use his example) of Harry Potter, as opposed to just Potter books or just Potter movies. This relates to making new TF2 video shorts as well as Team Fortress comics.
DRM is dead, long live “something else”: Valve suggests the way to beat pirates is to provide better services than they do. While Johnny Pirate is still trying to work out how to get the Scout update cracked, legitimate owners just download it, even while Valve is doing something as intrusive as data-mining its customers’ computers. People won’t care as long as you’re transparent about it.
Concept art is good: There’s nothing that builds a better “buzz” than seeing things in development. It also gets you in touch with your consumer base.
Many of Newell’s suggestions are far easier to implement on PC than on consoles, but Newell said that console makers who ignore this sort of thing are just like those developers who ignored 3D graphics a decade ago. Better graphics won’t be what determines a winner in the next console generation, it’ll be the extent to which a console allows game creators “to have this relationship with your customers.”
In other words, if consoles don’t adapt a Steam-style service, they likely won’t survive. Well, what do you think? Is he right?